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Dell Joining Microsoft, Novell in SUSE Deal Is Big Boost For Linux

The news that Dell will jump into the deal between Microsoft and Novell to boost the latter's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server pours some more water on what's been a steady drip, drip, drip of added support this year for the open source operating system. (I mean that in a good way!)
The news that Dell will jump into the deal between Microsoft and Novell to boost the latter's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server pours some more water on what's been a steady drip, drip, drip of added support this year for the open source operating system. (I mean that in a good way!)A quick trip to the way-back machine for some history: In the original deal, signed last November:


"Novell and Microsoft announced a significant, multi-part agreement to work together to improve the interoperability between Linux and Windows and for Microsoft to redistribute more than 350,000 subscriptions for SUSE Linux Enterprise to the Windows customer base over a five-year period."

Lest you think that the deal was done out of love between the two parties, and that everything's all sweetness and light between Microsoft and Novell, think again. The agreement was an elegant way for both parties to settle disagreements over patents which threatened to get even bigger, and to also attempt to bury the hatchet long enough to do something which would satisfy customers who wanted Linux either along with or instead of Windows.

Remember that the animosity between Microsoft and the open source would is on such a hair-trigger that, even after the original deal, there was still some sniping between the two. On the score, for example, there this from Novell's Open Letter of last November:


"We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. When we entered the patent cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents."

Remember, too, that Microsoft still runs its notorious Get the Facts Web site. Its objective is to encourage enterprises to migrate to Windows Server from Linux. Today, it's pretty benign. But when it launched several years ago, it created something of a Web firestorm after it publicized research it had paid for which purported to show that Windows had a total lower cost of ownership (TCO) than Linux.

Which brings us lurching forward to today's deal, in which Dell has joined the Microsoft/Novell party. Here's the money quote from the Novell press release:


"As part of the agreement, Dell will purchase SUSE Linux Enterprise Server certificates from Microsoft and establish a services and marketing program to migrate existing Linux users who are not Dell Linux customers to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server."

What's important here is not the deal per se, which isn't anything major. What is notable is that Dell is adding another prong to its Linux push, and continuing its run of public support which became high profile only a short while ago, when it announced it would sell PCs equipped with Linux. (Yes, I know today's agreement is for Enterprise Linux, not desktop. My point is Dell's ongoing support for Linux overall.)

Add to that Dell's earlier move to reintroduce Windows XP as an option Vista PCs, and Dell's earlier move to use AMD chips after years as an Intel-only company, and you have the real news at the heart of today's Dell-Novell-Microsoft announcement.

Which is that Michael Dell continues to perform impressively in his bid to revive his company, an effort which began when he sacked Kevin Rollins and retook the helm at the end of January.

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